Introduction to Actuarial Science
Actuaries are behind-the-scenes of many important financial decisions. They're basically statisticians who can project the financial relationship between cost and risk. Insurance policies for example are heavily affected by the work of actuaries who can determine the likelihood of illness for a certain age group or the likelihood of a return on a particular investment.
Actuary Job Description
About 70 percent of those employed as actuaries work in the insurance field, with specific job details varying from health insurance to life insurance companies, and so on. In the insurance field, an actuary must assess potential risks for individuals and corporations and then must compose an insurance plan in accordance with the assumed risk. The field is heavy on numbers and for someone who is engaged wholeheartedly in math, it's an incredibly rewarding career. Actuaries who do not work in insurance can be employed anywhere from government to corporations.
Actuaries must possess a proficiency in mathematics, especially pertaining to statistics, calculus, and probability. Over 100 US universities offer a degree in actuarial science, but many companies will hire actuaries who have a degree in statistics, calculus, mathematics or economics. An aspiring actuary will be expected to show proficiency in actuarial science through the tests administered by the Society Of Actuaries (SOA) and/or the tests administered by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).
Actuary Career Outlook
The median pay for actuaries ranges from about $55,000 to well over $100,000 annually, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though career growth is expected to increase at a much faster rate than average through 2018, it can sometimes be difficult to secure an initial job as an actuary. Once in the field, this career path often offers long-term stability. A degree, internship and demonstrated aptitude in statistics are all essentials for this profession.
The importance of actuaries -- in both insurance and in general business -- cannot be overstated. Through projections and statistical analysis, an actuary has the potential to save an insurance company or other corporation hundreds of thousands of dollars. While this job is essential, competition for the few available positions will remain intense.